UC Davis Joins National Effort to Improve Health on College Campuses

Female attaches window cling on glass
Marika Rossetto, a wellness student assistant at UC Davis, applies a window cling to the Student Community Center to identify it as one of the campus buildings with a hydration station as Shantille Connolly, wellness health educator, looks on. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

To help Aggies be healthier now and in the future, the University of California, Davis, has joined the Partnership for a Healthier America.

Over the course of a three-year agreement, UC Davis is pledging to meet 23 criteria to help students, faculty and staff make better food choices and be more physically active.

Logo of Partnership for a Healthier America

The nonprofit partnership, established in 2010 to fight childhood obesity, will introduce UC Davis and other new members of its Healthier Campus Initiative at an annual summit in Washington, D.C., today (May 12). Other new members from California are California State University, Fresno, and Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles. UCLA is already a member.

UC Davis — already recognized as the world’s most sustainable university and a leader in bicycling culture — currently meets 17 of the 23 criteria. Among new activities, the campus will:

  • implement a comprehensive wellness program, including activities with provisions for individuals with disabilities;
  • create a 2.4-mile Active Aggies Loop walking and running path through parts of the UC Davis Arboretum and other areas with route and distance markers;
  • ensure the percentage of healthier beverage purchases — including water, juice and low- or non-fat milk — accounts for 60 percent or more of the total dollar value of beverage purchases;
  • offer, at each regular mealtime in dining venues, one “wellness” meal that meets the initiative's highest standards for health and nutrition;  
  • offer at least five types of fruits, five types of vegetables and two 100 percent whole-grain products at the three main mealtimes in the dining commons and the Coffee House; and
  • offer, and identify with a single icon, healthier food and beverage options in dining commons, retail stores and vending machines.

At UC Davis, the health education and promotion department of Student Health and Counseling Services is overseeing the initiative.

Even with many students pursuing a healthy lifestyle, there is room for improvement.

In a 2015 survey, only 5.7 percent of UC Davis undergraduates and 10 percent of graduate/professional students reported consuming the recommended five-plus servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Roughly half of both undergraduate and graduate/professional students reported meeting the national physical activity guidelines. 

The campus will receive technical support and guidance from the partnership, which brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is its honorary chair.

Campuses elect which 23 criteria they will meet from among 41 developed by the partnership in collaboration with leading nutrition, physical activity and campus wellness experts.

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